Definition - What does Katu mean?
Ayurveda identifies six predominant tastes; sweet (madhura), sour (amla), salty (lavana), bitter (tikta), astringent (kashaya) and pungent (katu). Each of these tastes is made up of a combination of the five elements, and katu is considered to be predominantly fire and air. Pungent food tends to be hot, dry and light in nature. Katu is known to pacify Kapha, but aggravate Pitta and Vata.
Yogapedia explains Katu
Katu or pungent taste tends to stimulate digestion and increase digestive fire (agni). It is known to produce heat in the body, in turn improving the circulatory system. Katu has an anti-spasmodic effect, and so pungent foods can help improve menstrual cramps and symptoms of Irritable Bowel Syndrome. Katu brings clarity to the mind and perceptions, as well as increased focus.
Katu foods include:
- Chili pepper
- Cayenne pepper
- Habanera pepper
- Black pepper
These foods should be consumed in moderation, since excess katu can cause irritation and inflammation in the body, as well as increased Pitta. Eating too much pungent food may also lead to diarrhea, peptic ulcers, giddiness, insomnia and certain skin conditions.